• Germany's news in English
 

Row continues: Nefertiti 100 yrs in German hands

Published: 06 Dec 2012 06:56 GMT+01:00

The show at the city's New Museum showcases its most famous treasure - often said to be the most priceless depiction of the female visage after the Mona Lisa - and other booty carted home by German archaeologists after the December 6, 1912 find.

These include never-before-seen jewels of the Amarna period unearthed at the time by Ludwig Borchardt, and loans from institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and London's British Museum.

"There are artworks that belong to our collective consciousness - Nefertiti is such a work," German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann told reporters at a preview of the show entitled "In the Light of Amarna".

Nefertiti, renowned as one of history's great beauties, was the powerful wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, remembered for having converted his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of one sun god, Aton.

The sculpture, so fragile and valuable it is barred from being lent out, is the biggest draw at the museum, which was reopened in 2009 after a major restoration by British star architect David Chipperfield and now draws about a million visitors a year.

The limestone and plaster bust, dramatically displayed at the end of a long corridor under a dim spotlight, is stunning for its almond-shaped eyes - the right of which is missing the iris, aquiline nose, high cheekbones, sensuous lips and lofty blue crown with a band of red, grey and gold.

Its chipped ears are, remarkably, the only significant sign of damage exacted over the centuries.

The sculpture is at the top of a "wish list" of five major artifacts exhibited abroad that Egypt wants returned.

The campaign to get it back, which was spearheaded by former antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, has waned since the Arab Spring as Egypt grapples with more existential issues.

But officials in Berlin suggested that the dispute was rumbling on behind the scenes, despite what it said were documents proving the bust was bought legally by the former Prussian state.

"To head off any questions, let me say there is no doubt that Nefertiti rightfully belongs to the Berlin state cultural heritage foundation," Neumann said.

He said endlessly competing ownership claims would only lead to "chaos" and insisted that Berlin took seriously its responsibility to preserve the bust for eternity.

"The real question of to whom Nefertiti belongs is easily answered - to us all," he said.

The director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, housed in the New Museum, Friederike Seyfried, said the Arab Spring's upheaval had prevented scholarly cooperation with Egypt on the show and said she wished this could resume soon.

"I hope the political situation stabilises there and doesn't go in a direction we would regret," she said.

Amarna refers to the ruins of an ancient city founded by Akhenaton, where Borchardt and his team excavated more than 7,000 archaeological objects, about 5,500 of which made their way to Berlin.

The Berlin show will run until April 13 and features more than 1,000 of these objects including jewellery, ceramics and floor tiles from the royal palace featuring elaborate floral garlands.

A bust of Akhenaton which was restored especially for the exhibition is another keenly awaited highlight.

The show covers the art of the era, including discoveries from the sculpture workshop of Thutmose who is believed to have crafted Nefertiti, as well as the daily life of Amarna's citizens.

And it sheds new light on the work of James Simon, Borchardt's Jewish benefactor, whose contributions were largely eliminated from the historical record under the Nazis.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:57 December 6, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Not a chance, Muslim Brotherhood! We know where you'll put it.

Spoiler Alert!!!

It won't be in a museum.
Today's headlines
Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

Intersex person sues clinic for unncessary op
Photo: DPA

Intersex person sues clinic for unncessary op

Intersex person Michaela Raab is suing doctors in a Nuremberg court, who she said operated on her genitals and put her through female hormone therapy without having told her she was genetically a man. READ  

Greece bailout
Greece bailout passes with massive majority
Wolfgang Schäuble addressing the Bundestag on Friday. Photo: DPA

Greece bailout passes with massive majority

UPDATE:German MPs voted 542-32 in favour of extending Greece's bailout programme on Friday. READ  

German soars into ski jump top spot
Photo: DPA

German soars into ski jump top spot

Germany is a "Weltmeister" again, this time in ski-jumping. Severin Freund's 134-metre vertical jumps, and new world distance record of nearly 136 metres, ended the nearly decade-and-a-half wait for German ski jump fans starved for gold. READ  

Muslim Council says Jewish fears 'justified'
Muslims at prayer in Frankfurt's Abubakr Mosque. Photo: DPA

Muslim Council says Jewish fears 'justified'

After the president of the Central Council of Jews warned against anti-Semitism in Muslim areas of German cities, his Muslim opposite number agreed that 'these fears are justified”. READ  

Consumer rights office slams Facebook
Photo: DPA

Consumer rights office slams Facebook

The Federation of Consumer Protection Offices (vzbv) has warned Facebook over legal breaches in its terms and conditions, saying that its claim on the homepage that “Facebook is free and always will be” is misleading. READ  

Spoof hails Varoufakis: puts 'hell' in 'Hellenica'
Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's "Minister of Awesome". Photo: DPA

Spoof hails Varoufakis: puts 'hell' in 'Hellenica'

An offering that rehabilitates the much-maligned German sense of humour is rocking the internet with a searing spoof metal tribute to Greece's formidable new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, filled with painful moments of self-mockery. READ  

This Week in History
Kafka's Metamorphosis: 100 years of perplexity
Franz Kafka. Photo: DPA

Kafka's Metamorphosis: 100 years of perplexity

100 years ago, Franz Kafka published The Metamorphosis, now seen as one of the most significant works of 20th century German literature. The Local speaks to the academic who has reinterpreted it for a modern audience. READ  

Nurse jailed for life for serial patient murders
Niels H. in court. The five murder counts against the former nurse may just be the start. Photo: DPA

Nurse jailed for life for serial patient murders

A male nurse who injected patients with overdoses of heart medication for the thrill of resuscitating them was on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment on five counts of murder. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,430
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd